Archive for November, 2009

A little more to be thankful for

November 30, 2009

CEDAR HILL – Hillcrest Baptist Church gave an apartment complex a reason to be a little more thankful this holiday season.

The congregation’s Jerusalem Ministry Team recently distributed 186 boxes of food in an apartment complex where it has been ministering regularly. Each box included 12 non-perishable food items to help people provide for their families.

Mary Fae Kamm, who leads the church’s local ministry team, said the outreach is another way the church is trying to share the gospel with residents of the complex. Many of them have fallen on hard times, she said. Distributing food allows church members to meet physical and spiritual needs. Each box of food included an evangelistic Texas Hope 2010 multimedia gospel compact disc. The CD includes audio and video gospel presentations as well as a link to the Bible in more than 350 languages.

“When we had kid’s club, I’d have two or three people come down and say ‘I just don’t have any food …,’” she said. “Every day it seemed like we were putting together some boxes.”

Kamm said the congregation is attempting to share the love she believes Christ commands each of His followers to have for others.

“We love them for Jesus,” she said. “And they know that. They call us the church people, even in the office. We have ministered to the staff. When they’ve had crises in their life, they’ll call us up.”

Matt Chandler

November 30, 2009

Many of you are familiar with Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village — a congregation that is impacting thousands of people, especially younger generations in the Metroplex. Late last week, he ann0unced via Twitter that he has a mass in his frontal lobe and will see a neurosurgeon early this week. The church’s web site expands upon the situation slightly:

“Matt Chandler suffered a seizure Thursday morning while at home, was taken to a nearby hospital and is now at home resting with his family. Matt hit his head when he suffered the seizure and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Doctors ran several tests on Matt and will continue to run tests in the coming days. We will keep you posted. Please pray for Matt, Lauren and the kids. The best we can do as a church body right now is to give him space and our prayers. He is surrounded by family members, the elders and friends.”

Please be in prayer for Matt, his family and The Village Church during this time.

Our story

November 27, 2009

My wife MJ and I have been houseparents at South Texas Children’s Home Ministries (STCHM) for the past 20 years. We came here with a clear call to minister to the needs of children whose families cannot care for them, and we have never felt a call to go elsewhere. At this Thanksgiving time, it is good to reflect on what we have to be thankful for.

Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation in October of 1863 that would lead to the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. He extolled the blessings and mercy of God as a reason for the nation to give thanks. His proclamation came during a turbulent time in American history, just three months after Gettysburg during the Civil War.

Introducing up to eight boys or girls at any given time into your home can be turbulent. (And that’s not counting your own children; we have two daughters – Katie and Karissa.) Not knowing exactly what the children in your care have borne in life before coming to the Home can be turbulent, too. And not knowing the exact answer to each child’s concerns can definitely be turbulent. After 11 years at STCHM as houseparents, MJ was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and her treatment has included two major craniotomies, radiation, chemo, and numerous trips to Houston. More turbulence.

Through it all, God’s greatest blessings have always been, and will always remain, the children God has placed under our care – more than 90 since 1989. We especially thank God for a girl who has lived in our cottage for 11 years now. She came to us as a first grader and is now a senior in high school. She will graduate in May of 2010 and will head off to college with the full support and blessing of her STCHM family and her houseparents. A measure of how much a person means to others is how much they are missed when they part. We are missing Addie and she’s not even gone yet.

Just as Lincoln saw the majesty of God’s grace during the tragedy of his times, MJ and I have experienced the blessings and mercy of God in our lives as we work to share ourselves and the love of Christ at STCHM. I won’t lie, many of our experiences have been far too brief, and some have been far too turbulent. But all the time we’ve spent with these kids has been meaningful to us.  Each child is special to God and He actively works in their lives to care for them. We aren’t always the long-term solution, but God blesses in every encounter.

Jim and MJ Davis


November 26, 2009

My wife Kristin and I recently finalized the adoption of our beautiful daughter, Chloe. Over the course of our 3-year adoption journey, we have made some observations that we occasionally share with couples who are interested in adoption. 

  • Adoption is a Calling.  Adoption isn’t just something that you decide one day to do.  It takes time, and it take patience. It takes a willingness to have your home inspected to see if it is “worthy” and have your private lives explored to see if you are “fit.”  It also requires that you let go of your expectations of what your family will look like and relinquish the false premise that you are in control. It means letting God do the work and trusting that He will get it done.

If you just think that adoption is a take it or leave it scenario, then you will leave it. If you do not sense the call to adoption, then you will never make it.

  • Be Open to God.  There are three basic types of adoption: open, semi-open, and closed.  Closed is the typical adoption in CPS cases, and it has also been standard practice for private adoption for years. The birth parents don’t know the adoptive parents, and vice versa. Semi-open has some contact between the two parents, but it is mediated through the agency. Open adoption allows for an ongoing relationship between parents according to the comfort levels of each side. While you need to do what is comfortable for you, be open to whether or not God is calling you to do an open adoption.
  • Trust God in the Waiting.  Adoption is one huge waiting game. You wait to get pregnant; you wait to find out you can’t get pregnant; you wait to decide to adopt; you wait to find the right agency; you wait to do all the training; you wait to do the home study; you wait to get the results; you wait to be selected; you wait, wait, wait. In our waiting, I often got pretty angry with God for making us wait. But in the end, I had to trust Him…He was God after all. He kinda knew what he was doing. Just trust in His timing.
  • Think Beyond Your “Perfect” Family.   Too often, we get caught trying to recreate a biological family when we think about adoption. You have blond hair, and so does your wife; therefore, the baby should have blond hair, and throw in some blue eyes as well. Think beyond this narrow window. God’s family is far more diverse than that, and He may just decide to make your family look like His family. 

And if this family doesn’t “look” like you, don’t worry. Remember, we were adopted, too, by God … and we don’t look a thing like God. We are sinful, faithless, selfish, and down-right fallen. He is not. But in His grace, He has called us into His kingdom to create a new family. He may be calling you as an African-American couple to adopt a child from Asia, or an Asian-American couple to adopt a child with Hispanic heritage. Be ready to move beyond your vision of the “perfect” family and allow God to create His family in your house.

Above all, if you are thinking about adoption, pray, pray, and pray some more. And if it is your calling, then be ready for an incredible journey full of sorrow and joy, tears and laughter … a journey where God visibly demonstrates in your house the meaning of grace.

By Blake Killingsworth

A “Rey” of Thanksgiving

November 25, 2009

For STARRY Foster Parents Mike and Twyla – and their new son Rey – the Thanksgiving holiday is even more meaningful than usual.

Rey came into Foster Care at the fragile age of nine months due to neglect. He was nurtured by loving foster parents for approximately six months before returning to his biological mother.

Six months later, STARRY received a call from Child Protective Services that Rey was once again in need of a foster home. Mike and Twyla had very recently been licensed as foster parents and were anxious to see what God’s plans for them as parents would be.

“As soon as we set our eyes on this beautiful but scared little boy, we knew we had made the right decision,” says Mike. “It’s hard now to even imagine what our life was like before we got him. I have said it many times before, but the word that keeps coming to mind is BLESSED.”

Mike and Twyla knew from the beginning that foster care often means temporary, but they were prepared to love and care for Rey to their fullest ability no matter how long he stayed. After about four months, Rey became available for adoption and Mike and Twyla were thrilled to be considered his forever family.

Twyla remembers, “When Mike and I went into this, we always talked about what we would be able to give a child. We did not realize until we had Rey come into our home what a child brought to us. After just a couple of weeks, we were Mom and Dad. Rey has made us stop or at least slow down and be thankful for the clouds, balloons, roly-polys and the list is never ending.”

Yesterday, Rey was  officially adopted. He’s only 2 and may not understand completely all that is happening, but it is clear that he has a strong bond with Mike and Twyla and they are so thankful to have their little “Rey of Hope” in their lives, forever.

“I am so thankful for the hugs, hearing him laugh, watching him sleep, reading him stories at bedtime and this list really does go on and on,” says Twyla. “I thank God every day for this child and for STARRY.”

By Bill Martin, Children at Heart

In God’s time

November 24, 2009

In the fall of 2006, my husband and I attended the Baptist Child & Family Services foster to adopt training program.  The training brought a level of awareness to how little I knew about children, granted assurance that resources were available to learn what was needed and provided support while on the journey.

As our training sessions came to a close, we felt ready to open our home, hearts and lives to children in need. We had it all figured out; two or three siblings, under the age of 4. Never did we imagine that we would get a call from BCFS a few days before our training was over asking us to receive four siblings. I thought it would be years before we would have the opportunity to receive any child into our home. I called my husband who said, “We should think about it. We’ll talk after work.”

God always finds a way to speak to us, and I heard him loud and clear. My husband and I needed to learn what we were equipped to handle. I knew that I was not prepared to go from zero to four overnight and serve the children well. We said no. 

That evening I prayed, asking if I had missed His desire for me. The peace I felt was over-whelming and settled any doubts. God had other plans for us, but needed us to come together and really know what we could manage. I have always known that God would place children in my life, though I didn’t know how or when. He’s always spoken to my heart and confirmed that my desire to be a mom would come to fruition.

It was two days later that we received another call from BCFS about a brother and sister that had been in foster care for a year and a half.  A sweet, soft-spoken, five-year old girl and her animated and often temper tantrum-throwing two-year old brother were introduced to us over a weekend of “respite care.”  We said yes to them moving into our home as our foster-children, and five months later the adoption was complete. 

That was three years ago, just two weeks before Thanksgiving. Now ages eight and five, we’ve experienced a lot of things that I never gave much thought to during our training:  homework, swimming lessons, birthday parties, time-outs, cooking kid friendly meals, behavior charts, dance classes, shopping for kids who grow overnight, soccer games, boo-boos, etc.  Every moment is worth every effort.  

What am I most thankful for? The community of people who helped this broken woman find her way back to God. Laughter and giggles, hugs and kisses, story time and evening prayers, learning how to talk to a child about the world we live in and about how we can serve those around us. I am thankful for “teaching moments,” when things aren’t going picture perfect. It’s often in those moments I learn so much about how I chose to live my life. 

I am thankful for a life that has bloomed!

BCFS Adoptive Parent, Maricela Hune

Wherever you came from, wherever you go, this is the place that we start

November 23, 2009

“Wherever you came from, wherever you go, this is the place that we start.”
– from “Happy Adoption Day”, by John McCutcheon
Our family of three started six months ago when we adopted Sam. People always tell us something like “Sam is such a lucky/blessed little boy to be with you” or “Wow, you have really changed his life.” My reaction, sometimes spoken and sometimes not, is to recognize God’s blessing in choosing Sam for us and recognizing what a difference he’s made in our lives.
Our five year journey brought us frustrations, disappointments, uncertainty, fear and waiting. But for all of those things just listed, I can call out the gifts of peace, patience, hope, faith and love that He has built in me over this journey. Things that I could never claim to come out of me or my heart without Him.
We love, love, love our Sam. Six months later he is seven pounds heavier, four inches taller, and every bit of a fun-loving, fast-moving, singing and laughing four year old little boy. We soak up every minute when he shares his sweet smile, his squeal of delight, his excitement about every new thing. He also tests our every last nerve, but I hear that’s just part of being a parent.
Sometimes I even forget that he did not grow in me as our biological child. It’s like he’s always been with us. And really, I know he has been, because our Father, knowing we wanted to start a family over five years ago, knew that Sam would be a part of our family at the exact time and place and in the exact circumstances that we came together [Gen. 21:2b].
Our greatest hope is that somewhere, someone who hears our story will feel that nudge from God that propels them toward the adoption He has planned for them. There are so many children in our world that need a home and so many of us that have God-built places for them if we just take some time to recognize that.
If you know you are called to adoption, let me encourage you that our Father will provide every bit of everything (all the excuses you may make and even the things you don’t know you need) that you need to make this journey. We know first hand that adoption is a huge choice, but it brings me to a quote from a blog I love of a family waiting for their child, “I’ve decided that it’s never wrong to choose to love someone.”
We hope and pray you take the steps to find the next love in your family and that it will happen soon.
Kyle, Ashli and Sam Young

A week of thanks

November 23, 2009

This week, this space will be filled with thanks. Thanks for family. Thanks for blessing. Thanks for bringing together people. Thanks for God’s work. In particular, thanks to Him for adding young boys and girls to families through adoption.

I hope you enjoy and are blessed by them.

So we know how. But why?

November 23, 2009

On Friday, Jeremy Everett explained how Texas Baptists, working in concert with other believers, are seeking to end hunger in Texas by 2015. This morning, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commision Director Suzii Paynter explains why this is a God-given call.

She could have pointed to Matthew 25 in which Christ explains that as we do “unto the least of these,” we have done to Him. Instead, she chose Jesus’ healing of the blind man in Mark 8. She describes today as being like Christ’s second touch of healing upon the man. Texas Baptists are clearly seeing the need to respond to the vast number of hungry people across the state and responding as God is calling them to do.

So as churches and individuals respond to the opportunity to share the hope of Christ throughout this state, will you join them? Will you serve alongside them?

How is that possible?

November 20, 2009

As Ferrell mentioned earlier, federal, state and local leaders in the fight against hunger gathered Thursday at Baylor for a hunger summit. They are setting their sights on ending hunger in Texas by 2015, a short time to accomplish a goal that’s never been accomplished.

So how are they going to do it? I’m glad you asked. Here’s Jeremy Everett, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative –a partnership between Texas Baptists and the Baylor School of Social Work — to explain. The audio is a little difficult to hear, but if you have good speakers or earphones you should be fine.